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Phoenix  – Hope for Forgotten Futures was set up in response to a demand from disadvantaged young people and families for the performing arts services of Revolution Performing Arts (RPA).

RPA could see the softer affect of their work, where they use the process of performing arts to nurture young people, helping them express and embrace their individuality therefore increasing their confidence and self esteem.

It was evident from working with young people who came from a wide variety of family backgrounds, for example, but not exclusively, young people who were adopted, fostered, victims of domestic, sexual, physical and emotional abuse and also suffering from neglect; that RPA provides a means of “escape”, whilst also providing a way of emotionally healing young people, all from using performing arts tools in a gentle, nurturing way. RPA has found that children are letting go, healing and having fun, subconsciously, without relating to their family backgrounds. Feeling normal?

Object

To raise money to enable Revolution Performing Arts to deliver the arts to promote mental, emotional and physical health and wellbeing in disadvantaged young people for the public benefit.

Purposes

  1. Utilizing the performing arts to support disadvantaged young people to aspire to a positive future by enabling the discovery of skills for health, wellbeing and resilience.
  2. Phoenix RPA will provide the required resources for Revolution Performing Arts to deliver the programme within a range of appropriate settings.
  3. “Disadvantaged” is defined to be inclusive of any child who would benefit from the programme without prejudice to background, circumstances or ethnicity.
  4. The programme is defined as a schedule of activities which may include singing, dance and drama.
  5. Primarily, the geographical area to benefit would be Swindon and it’s surrounding areas.

Trustees

In setting up Phoenix RPA, the selection of Trustees was given considerable thought in order to provide a well balanced and transparent Board and to ensure a high level of integrity . The following Trustees were chosen for the following reasons:
Stuart Clarke – (community representative) – a retired Pastor of 35 years, amassed a vast experience of working with a wide array of family situations and backgrounds. Currently also a Street Pastor and member of community programmes who works well and in partnership with the local police force.
Alexandra Saxon – (research and communications representative). Alex is Head of the Research Councils UK Strategy Unit. Alex accesses a large amount of research which relates to the work Phoenix RPA hopes to fund, especially articles by the acclaimed Professor Richard Layard of the London School of Economics, who has written many articles on the importance of happiness in children.
Rebecca Baker – (mental health representative). Becky is a Social Worker and Approved Mental Health Professional. Becky sees the fallout of how mental health in adults is vastly affected if not dealt with in childhood.
Helen Miah – (arts representative). Helen is the Arts Commissioner for Swindon Borough Council and can see how using performing arts used in this unique process driven way is extremely beneficial for the health and well being of young people.
Deborah Rees – (Secretary). Debs is the Business Manager for a collective of three schools in Gloucestershire and sees how performing arts has a positive impact within children’s lives.
Mae Ferguson – (young person’s representative). Mae is not an official trustee as she is 15. She attends board meetings to always provide the young person’s view.

Performing Arts and it’s benefits for Young People who have Experienced Abuse

Performing arts can be extremely beneficial to children who have experienced abuse as it allows a ‘safe space’ for the child to express themselves. Children who have lived with violence and abuse often lack confidence and self- esteem and this can affect all areas of their lives. They may have low aspirations for the future and avoid new situations where they worry they may not succeed, but these sessions give them something to feel proud of. Drama can be comforting for children as they are encouraged that they can be who they want to be and so imagination exercises are great for this. Fi creates a warm and welcoming environment where the group has an understanding based on mutual respect and the children over time become supportive of each other. The sessions provide a fantastic opportunity for children to interact and work as a team with other children who have had similar experiences to them. For children experiencing difficulties with managing the anger and other difficult emotions, performing arts provides a safe outlet to channel their frustrations. For some children, they will have taken on a role as carer of younger siblings and this allows them to be a child again and have their own independence. Research shows that 1 in 3 children will develop a mental illness as a direct result of witnessing violence in the home, and this may not manifest itself until adulthood. Therefore, it is important to involve these children in as many positive activities as possible to help counteract the negative impact. Children need to feel valued, accepted and that they are worthy of fair treatment and success, so that the cycle of abuse doesn’t repeat itself for that child as an adult.

PHOENIX RPA ALSO WORKS WITHIN SCHOOLS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE THAT BENEFIT FROM THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES, TO LEARN TO LISTEN AND BE LISTENED TO. HERE ARE SOME WORDS FROM THEM (names have been removed).

Quotes from Young People

“I really enjoy the sessions and it’s really good. I like it because I get to know more people and make new friends. I like having lots of friends. Now I’ve got new friends like __ and __ and __.”

”It’s good because we get to pick who’s singing and dancing. Fi does what we want to do so we are not bored. It’s really fun. It’s made me more confident in standing in front of a lot of people.”

“It’s really fun. I’ve enjoyed doing it. It’s really cool because it’s something I’ve never done before. So to do it in that style is a really good idea. You feel really free because you can do what you want to. It’s inspired me to do a lot more dancing.” 10/10

“I’ve really liked it-we get to do whatever we want and play fun games. She always makes us happy and does what we all want to do. She always has a smile on her face and that makes us have a smile to make us happy. She always cheers us up. We get to talk about boy’s stuff.”

“Well I really, really, really like it, and playing games and dancing. I like the way she teaches us new moves, and the way we make dances with them. I know that dancing and singing ain’t so bad and I like sharing ideas with new people. Fi tells us lots of jokes. Don’t have to do what you don’t want to. I feel excited and can’t wait.”

“I really enjoy them and so do my friends. We’re bridging new friends because we’re understanding new people. Before we didn’t like singing and dancing and now we really enjoy it. It’s really cool. I didn’t know___ could rap and ____ is a really good singer.”

“It’s fun because there’s no rules and we always go to escape and she uses her fishing rod (metaphorically speaking). I feel happy because we get to come out of class. I enjoy the small group. Fi said I am a good singer. I feel like I want it to be every day.”

“I have really enjoyed having to go. All the other boys have as well. We got to play games, sing and dance. Best thing is the games and singing. I’ve enjoyed dancing and singing solos and duets with my friends. I feel amazing. There’s no rules and you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.

“It’s been really enjoyable. We get to do singing and dancing and my favourite is singing. When I’m down it makes me feel better. I like the way Fi teaches us new moves and all the songs she does. It’s really fun. Tuesdays are exciting.”

“It’s been helpful with my confidence, how I speak and express myself. It’s made me be myself and not have to act. It’s really helpful to be able to do things that I want, not what other people want, giving me confidence. I really look forward to it.”

When asked to help me explain what the group is like for a new group of children one boy said… ” A chance for you to be yourself and a chance to have fun. Let yourself be free.”

Quote from Primary School, Senior Leadership Team

“Working with Fi and Paul is always a treat.
Their philosophy of ‘no pressure’ is a welcome relief for some of our children. Our boys are really benefitting from this special time where they can try things out in a ‘safe space’. Some of them did not know what to expect when they began their groups, but now these boys are so excited for Tuesdays. These are boys who have been invited due a variety of factors, but commonly a low self esteem and self image. In just a few weeks, their enthusiasm has convinced me to extend their period of sessions to see what more we can achieve. Some of them have been very reflective and the attached sheet demonstrates their feedback.
Fi has a special knack of tuning straight into these children’s emotional needs and finding the right activity to support them. We are just in the process of planning more groups for after Christmas, where I am convinced Fi will reach out to more children.”
Veronica Finnie, Deputy Head, Oakhurst Community Primary School

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